Friday, October 17, 2014

Ginger-molasses spice cookies (copycat Ivins' Spice Wafers)

Super crunchy ginger and molasses spice cookies are the yummier cousin of a gingersnap -- and a copycat recipe of Philadelphia's Ivins' Famous Spiced Wafers.

ginger molasses spice cookies - a copycat recipe for Ivins Spice Wafers


So you probably know by now that Mr. Ninj and I recently moved from Vermont to Kentucky (yes, it was a big move). What you might not know is that we originally thought we were moving to Pennsylvania (don't ask, long story) -- specifically, the western suburbs of Philadelphia. Yeah, not exactly Kentucky.

To that end, we started to spend a bit of time in the Philadelphia area, looking for potential places to live. During one visit, I went into a local grocery store chain and was confronted by a wall -- literally a WALL -- of orange and black boxes of cookies.

What the ... ?

Upon closer examination, they were all boxes of Ivins' Famous Spiced Wafers. Famous? Really? Famous where? Certainly not anywhere I had ever lived before (which is TEN different states, but who's counting?). Yet I was intrigued and, since they were cookies and cookies without high fructose corn syrup in the ingredient list, I bought a box.

Copycat recipe for Ivins Famous Spiced Wafers from Yankee Kitchen Ninja
Photo courtesy of beachpackagingdesign.com

OK, OK, I bought three boxes.


And thank god I did! Mr. Ninj proclaimed them to be "the greatest ginger snap I have ever eaten in my life." Whhhaaattt???!!! High praise indeed! Of course, I took that as a personal challenge and started researching how I could make my own version of these gingery spicy cookies.

It turns out that Ivins really are famous -- well, around the greater Philadelphia area anyway. The cookies have been (and still area) made in the area since the 1960s and are only available during the fall months. For many kids growing up in the area, Ivins' wafers were their primary fall treat and are practically synonymous with Halloween.

Despite their famousness and popularity, Ivins Spicy Wafers are not available outside of Pennsylvania (roughly). Which I cannot understand, because these cookies are so freakin' good! Way more than a gingersnap (I've heard them called the "first cousin of a gingersnap"), Ivins' Spiced Wafers have a deeper flavor, due to the molasses and the addition of rich spices other than ginger and cinnamon. Plus, they are super crunchy, making them ideal for dunking in milk (or an afternoon chai tea latte, speaking from frequent experience).

So, rather than making an annual fall trip to Philadelphia to buy the wafers or paying an arm and a leg for a case of them on the Internet, I made my own. It took a couple of batches but I think I've nailed it -- and I base this on Mr. Ninj taste testing one of mine along with one of the Ivins' wafers from the boxes I bought and saying, "You nailed it!"

If you even remotely like gingersnaps, you are going to go completely cray cray for these cookies.

One word of caution: to get the full level of crunchiness, you must walk a fine line between baking and burning these cookies, so be sure to watch the oven like a hawk during the final minute or two of baking. Although Mr. Ninj even scarfed down the batch I had dubbed too burned (yeah, they're THAT good).

Having moved all over the country as much as I have, I know what it's like to have a special local food item from your old hometown that you can't get anymore -- and how much that absence make you dream about it and associate it with home. So I hope I've made some former kids of Philadelphia a little happier this fall with my ginger-molasses spice cookies, a copycat Ivins' spice wafer recipe.

Are you familiar with Irvins' wafers? Leave a comment: The Ninj wants to hear from you!

ginger molasses spice cookies - a copycat recipe for Ivins Spice Wafers

Ginger-Molasses Spice Cookies (copycat Ivins' Famous Spice Wafers)

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Using a mixer, cream the butter, coconut oil and sugar on medium speed for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and molasses. Add all the remaining ingredients and blend well.

Drop the dough in 1-tablespoon-sized scoops on to a parchment-lined baking sheet (don't skip the parchment or you run a great risk of burning the bottoms) -- these cookies spread, so give them a decent amount of room. Bake for 13-16 minutes, letting them cook as long as you can without burning the edges (they will turn quite brown). Seriously: you want them as brown yet unburned as possible for maximum crunchiness.

Remove from oven and cool on the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

www.yankeekitchenninja.com
-- print recipe --

30 comments:

  1. These look and sound amazing! A perfect addition to my holiday baking list!

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    1. They definitely would be a great holiday cookie -- enjoy!

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  2. I have never seen the Ivins' Spice Cookies before, but your recipe sure sounds good! I love how you use coconut oil in these; that's one of my new favorite ingredients. Will have to give these a try!

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    1. I've become a big fan of baking with coconut oil as well, Ashlyn. Enjoy the cookies if you try them!

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    2. Is there some alternative you would recommend for coconut oil? I live with a person with a severe coconut allergy.

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    3. Anne: Just substitute with butter (same amount)!! Enjoy.

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  3. Holy cow, Mr. Achmed would run me over in his truck to get some of these. I must make them!!! And now of course I must ask -- you knew I would -- where do I find coconut oil?

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    1. You can find coconut oil in the supermarket -- usually in the organic section or with baking products. You'll love these!

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  4. Ok, I found it. I'm going to make them this weekend--can't wait! The weather has turned cold(ish) so I'm in the mood for these.

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    1. Yippee! And, just so you know, you can use coconut oil as a healthier substitute for oil and/or butter in baking recipes!

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  5. I made these this weekend, and they are really great! Even my kid who likes nothing loved them. I didn't cook them long enough, apparently, since mine were a bit puffy, but the flavor was really excellent. I'm going to try them again very soon and try to make sure I cook them longer, because I love crispy ginger cookies.

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  6. I am Originally from the Philly area and remember these cookies growing up there. I was going to have a friend from up there mail me a few boxes down here in Florida. Luckily I found your recipe and can make them anytime.
    In fact, I just used your recipe and made the cookies. WOW. They brought back some memories. My wife said my cookies were better than Ivin's. Not to mention the awesome aroma these cooking produce in your home.
    I love to bake, especially around the holidays. I give my homemade cookies as gifts. So I am adding this recipe to my list and starting a new tradition of making them (at least) during the winter holidays.
    Thank you Yankee Kitchen Ninja and Jules for sharing this recipe.
    Ken

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    1. THANKS for the awesome feedback, Ken! I'm so happy that someone who remembers and loves these cookies found my recipe. ENJOY!!!!

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  7. I recently moved to Germany, but grew up in the Greater Philadelphia area (South Jersey) and YES, Ivan's Spiced Wafers ARE a regional favorite and a Fall/Christmas time must-have!!!
    One of the things I miss most about being away, is the pumpkin & spice... everything! So I was incredibly happy to find your recipe and will be trying it out later tonight!
    TIP: Spiced Wafers and Apple Cider! Best combo ever!

    Thank you for going through the painstaking process of trial and error! You've saved me many disappointing recipe trial runs! :)

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    1. Thank you, Jacquelyn, for your comment -- it is notes like yours that make my work so worthwhile! ENJOY the cookies and I hope they live up to your memories. Happy Fall!

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  8. Can NOT wait to make these when my mom arrives on Tuesday for Thanksgiving from my home town of Philadelphia!! LOVE Ivins!! (Oh and their competitor Sweetzel's as well!) Yum!! Happy Thanksgiving to you & yours!

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    1. Awesome, Phyllis!!! I hope you love them -- and Happy Thanksgiving right back at ya!

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  9. wow !!! just made them .. and they are so much like ivan's. i followed the baking instruction , and cooked them 12 at a time - the 1st batch i took out at the 14 min mark - the were soft , but good. the next 12 i took out at 15 mins , and they were darker in color , and stiffer. the last batch i took out at 16 mins - they were darker , like ivan's color , and very crispy. i was afraid to leave them in there longer.
    GREAT recipe !!

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    1. That was an awesome strategy -- I'm so glad they turned out well for you. ENJOY!!!!

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  10. Good research. I reduced the salt amount in half. I thought it was too salty.

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  11. I'm a Philly girl living in Argentina. We're heading into fall here, and I've been craving these! I have many fond memories of Sweetzels (another famous spiced wafer from Philadelphia), and I'm really looking forward to trying your recipe. Thanks!

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  12. I grew up in South Jersey and we had Ivin's spice cookies every year in the fall. Dunking them in a glass of milk is the best! I now live in AZ and if I go back to visit in the fall I have to bring a couple boxes back to AZ with me. Anxious to get some coconut oil this week and try this recipe.

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    1. Awesome, Sandra -- I hope you enjoy them. We just had an Acme open in our town and they have TONS of Ivins at the moment. But Mr. Ninj claims to like this recipe even better now!

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    2. Funny Sandra. I too am from South Jersey but have lived in AZ about 28 years. I just picked up ginger snaps today thinking to myself that I wish Ivins Famous Spiced Wafers were sold here. I go online tonight to see if I can get them. The ones selling them are charging outrageous prices. So I Googled for a recipe and here I am. Thank you Kitchen Ninja for this recipe! I will be making these soon. DT Bauer

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  13. Hi! I'm a Philadelphia native living in London (3 years now). So far someone has sent me a box every year but this year I found your recipe. I just made them today, they are so close you can barely tell the difference. I'll be making them all fall. Thank you so much! Oh and Jacquelyn is right, spiced wafers and apple cider are the best combo. (can't get that in London either)

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  14. Thanks for the recipe. These are my absolute favorite cookies!

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  15. Hello!
    I'm a Philadelphia native, recently moved to Oklahoma, and was missing my Ivin's spiced wafers down here. I decided to make my own, and thankfully came across your recipe. The cookies turned out AMAZING! Pretty much spot on to Ivin's, just not as super hard. Thank you for creating this recipe! I grew up eating Ivin's or Sweetzels every fall, as it was a tradition in our house. Now I can recreate that tradition here in OK! Thanks again!

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  16. Thanks for the recipe! These are very close to the original. I've made 4 batches so far. My Mom is visiting from Philadelphia and brought a box for side-by-side comparison. These are VERY close. Here are some notes from my experience:

    - I used canola oil instead of coconut oil. It worked fine, as I'm sure any vegetable oil would. I don't think I'd use more butter as I think they'd end up tasting buttery.

    - I used salted butter and cut the salt by 1/4 tsp. That worked fine.

    - In an attempt to be more healthy, I cut the butter in one batch by 2 Tbsp and substituted an equal amount of applesauce. These also came out well, but were softer.

    - My later batches are baking up fatter. This started right about the time I replenished my flour and switched from Gold Medal to King Arthur. I think the flour consistency may be different. Either that or I need to let the butter come up to room temperature before mixing.

    Thanks for the fantastic recipe!!

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  17. Oh glorious day! I was craving these and the recipe i found didn't come close. Can't wait to try these! Ice cream between 2 of them!

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  18. Hi and thanks for the recipe! I think I may change it just a bit, tho, and substitute 1t of baking powder for one of the soda. Something about cook science and that it has just a tad weird effect on my tongue. Otherwise, great and my kitchen smells amazing!

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